How do we build a different kind of journalism?
GALWAD: A STORY FROM OUR FUTURE is a human story of contemporary Wales that offers a glimpse into the future and asks what would happen if the future tried to contact us.
It began last night and will unfold throughout this week in real-time on digital and broadcast platforms, blending live performance and TV drama from Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil and Blaenau Ffestiniog.
As part of this project, GALWAD has been working The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and Solutions Journalism Network to build a People’s Newsroom that will redefine journalism and support communities to tell their own stories.
It has brought together participants from Swansea, Blaenau Ffestiniog and Merthyr Tydfil to imagine, train for and design a newsroom that builds community power and positive change in Wales.
Let me be honest with you. I’m a journalist because I want to be part of making the world a better place. I see the role of journalism as helping give people the information they need to orientate themselves in the world. To live in a fully functioning democratic society, we all need to understand the impacts of policies and events so that we can make informed decisions, use our agency and express our individual and community power.
Some people in the industry think that view of journalism is unacceptably activist and totally in conflict with the notion of journalistic objectivity. But their so-called “objectivity” relies on a flawed belief that journalism and journalists are somehow separate from the systems of power which they report on.
The truth is that journalism is an intrinsic part of those systems – creating and defining events, not simply reporting on them in a disinterested way. Obviously, the people and organisations who benefit from these outdated ideas are those who already have power and very much want to keep it.
So how do we build a different kind of journalism? One that’s people-powered, collaborative and community first? That was the task we set ourselves with The People’s Newsroom Initiative, a project incubated by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, which supports people to unleash community power through journalism that reflects them, serves them and sparks positive change.
The journalism industry currently lacks both plurality and diversity, so in partnership with GALWAD – Wales’ project for Unboxed: Creativity in the UK – we’ve worked with people and communities across Wales to train and support them to tell their own stories. Stories which spring from diverse experiences, and reflect the confidence, contrasts and contradictions of modern Wales that we don’t see in traditional media.
Since Monday’s launch, GALWAD has explored how we might imagine the future we want, so we can start building it now. It makes sense then, that our People’s Newsroom should take exactly that approach to journalism – thinking differently about who makes it and what it looks like.
Traditionally, the industry has been overwhelmingly white, male, straight, middle-class, metropolitan, able-bodied…you get the picture.
Is it any wonder then that it reflects the interests of that tiny proportion of the population? The group we’ve worked with is much more reflective of the true diversity of Wales and the different stories we have to tell.
That traditional journalism also tends to focus on social problems, without offering any insight into how we might respond to them or how they might be solved. How can we be surprised that readers and viewers are increasingly disengaging from news, when it serves only to make us anxious without offering any resolution – even when many possible solutions exist. Why would anyone willingly sign up to that?
That’s why we’ve worked with the Solutions Journalism Network to look at how we can tell stories that explore the solutions, not just the problems.
That can still be rigorous reporting, by looking at what can be learned from a response, analysing the evidence and being clear about any limitations too. It does though help us see how things might be better, and how we might help, rather than feeling helpless.
Over the next few days, you’ll be able to read a series of articles produced by our GALWAD People’s Newsroom, here on Nation. Cymru. They will tell different stories in different ways. They’ve been written by people who had little or no experience of journalism 3 months ago, which means they aren’t weighed down by the habits, formulas and orthodoxies of traditional journalism.
Journalism – and society – are facing a number of interlocking challenges which won’t be fixed by just carrying on with business as usual.
The solutions lie in inclusion and innovation – finding new answers to old problems. We can build the future we want, we can make the world a better place. We just need to start, by thinking differently.
GALWAD is part of UNBOXED: Creativity in the UK, co-commissioned with Creative Wales with funding from Welsh Government and UK Government.
You can follow the story online at galwad.cymru or @GALWAD22 on social media and watch the full catch-up and live broadcast on Sky Arts (Freeview Channel 11) from 4.30pm – 9pm on Sunday 2 October.
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